HOUSEHOLDERS are being warned to watch out for fake tradies, after a spate of scams in Victoria.
Victorians are being urged to be wary of conmen posing as tradies knocking on their door or leaving flyers in the letterbox, offering to do maintenance work.
According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, these dodgy tradespeople pressure home owners and small businesses into paying cash up front for services.
Once they get the cash, they disappear -- leaving work that is of poor quality or unfinished.
The warning from Consumer Affairs Victoria comes after two fake tradies were arrested in early May after allegedly scamming a Burwood man out of $260,000.
"Unfortunately, not all dodgy tradies (also known as travelling con men) get caught," said a Consumer Affairs Victoria spokesperson.
"They are unscrupulous, taking advantage of vulnerable Victorians, people from CALD backgrounds, or older people who may live alone. They offer to do maintenance work then disappear leaving unfinished or substandard work."
In the last financial year, fake tradies accounted for losses of more than $1 million reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Roof repairs, driveway resurfacing, tree pruning and maintenance were the most common services offered.
Boroondara, Darebin, Whitehorse, Glen Eira, Moreland, Whittlesea, Brimbank and Kingston were the main council areas targeted in 2018.
Fake tradies can be difficult to track down - often, they only provide first names and mobile numbers which are easy to cancel once the job is done.
They may also use details of legitimate businesses.
If you suspect a fake tradie is at your door, tell them you're not interested and ask them to leave.
If they do not leave, they are breaking the law and you can call the police.
If you want work done on your property, Consumer Affairs Victoria recommends:
- Contacting established tradespeople
- Asking friends and family for referrals
- Seeking a quote from more than one business, and asking for it in writing - including the tradesperson's full name and industry registration or licence details (depending on the service)
- Don't sign any agreement until you are ready. Where possible, ask someone you trust to look at it before you sign
- If a tradesperson claims to be from a business, independently find the business' contact details and call to confirm whether the tradesman works for them. Don't use contact information provided by the person who has approached you.
If you hear fake tradies are operating in your area, record any information you can, including company names and vehicle registration numbers, and report them to the National travelling con men hotline on 1300 133 408.
For more information about fake tradie scams, visit consumer.vic.gov.au/faketradies